Pharmacists to be allowed give flu jab in homes and cars

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to bring amendments to existing legislation

Almost half of the expected vaccine doses have now been received and all doses are expected by mid-October. Photograph: iStock

Almost half of the expected vaccine doses have now been received and all doses are expected by mid-October. Photograph: iStock

 

Pharmacists will be given the power to administer flu vaccines in people’s homes or cars for the first time under plans being brought forward by the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

The changes will allow pharmacists to give the flu vaccine at locations other than in their own retail premises for the first time.

Pharmacists have been allowed to provide a vaccination service on their pharmacy premises to patients for 10 years. Mr Donnelly will bring amendments to existing legislation to allow for the introduction of the practice and it is expected the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland will discuss guidelines as early as next week. The measures are being put in place to support the healthcare system during the Covid-19 pandemic and also to take vaccination pressures off other areas of primary care.

Potential locations that pharmacists can give the vaccine will include: a person’s car, a person’s home, a residential care home, a carpark, including a drive-through service similar to Covid-19 testing service, a business premises, a school or other childcare facility or a community or sports hall.

The Department of Health is also hoping that the measure will increase uptake of the influenza vaccine across all age groups but in particular those in the at-risk categories.

Almost half of the expected vaccine doses have now been received and all doses are expected by mid-October, the department said.

Initial deliveries of this vaccine to GPs, pharmacists, nursing homes and other sites began on 17 September, with “additional significant orders” expected to be taken this week.

All of those in at-risk groups, including healthcare workers, can access the vaccination without charge.

All children aged from 2 to 12 years inclusive will also have access to vaccination without charges. The vaccine will be administered to children through nasal drops rather than an injection.

Nasal vaccinations for children aged 2 to 12 are expected to start from mid-October.